Tracks are an important concept in ALK, so in this section, we’ll cover what they are and the different types of tracks that exist. Tracks have two visual representations in ALK: Track Leaders and Track Panels.
Like Loops, tracks have names, which can and should be changed to something meaningful, like “lead guitar”. This is described in more detail in Using Tracks. (Giving tracks good names brings tangible benefits in ALK: track colors are grouped by according to their name, so e.g. Synth Bass and Synth Pad would automatically get similar colors, whereas Lead Vocal and Backing Vocals would get a different color.)
Tracks operate at a higher level than the Track Panel’s mixer: they know the sequence of Loops in the arrangement. To use an analogy, if the mixer represents the raw, low-level, immediate, realtime signals, then the track is like an orchestrator or sound man, which controls the operation of the varous audio and MIDI processor, such as the loop functionality, and FX, over time, i.e. throughout the live performance.
The script or sequence this metaphorical orchestrator follows is determined by the sequence of Loops contained in the track.
There are five types of tracks in ALK. Three performance tracks: Audio, Instrument and MIDI, and two automation tracks: Command, and Control.
Track types can be distinguished through their Track Type Icon. In the image on the left, Analog Synth is an instrument track, Main Vocals is an audio track, and Keys is a MIDI track; on the right, we see a Command Track and Control Track — note that the icons are look like a foot switch and a rotary encoder, respectively.
|Track Type||Input Type||Output Type||Plugin Types|
|Audio||Audio Data||Audio Data||Audio FX|
|Instrument||MIDI Data||Audio Data||Audio FX|
|MIDI||MIDI Data||MIDI Data||MIDI FX|
|Command||MIDI Data||Automation Data (On/Off/Trigger)||None|
|Control||MIDI Data||Automation Data (Continuous)||None|
- Track Names - Track names can be changed by clicking on the track name in the
Track Panel or Track Leader. ALK approach
to coloring tracks is unique, and depends on you providing good names. Basically,
ALK uses a so-called clustering algorithm on a string-distance metric to give tracks
that have similar names similar colors. This removes the redundancy of giving good
names and choosing colors. To help make this processs seamless, ALK automatically
sets initial track names in the following situations:
- For instrument tracks, where the name of the track has not been changed manually (i.e. by typing in the edit field in the track leader or panel), the name of the track is automatically changed to the track instrument.
- For audio tracks, the name is changed to the name of the first input. Since it is possible to change the visual name of hardware inputs in the Preferences window, this allows you to create semantically meaningful inputs (say, Jim’s Vocals — which could override the default hardware input name Babyface Input 1) which, when added as first cable to an audio track, automatically change the name of the track to its input. (So the track would now be called Jim’s Vocals.) Note that, as above, this is only the case if track hasn’t already been renamed “by hand”.
- Creating Tracks - Tracks can be created using the add track button.
- Deleting Tracks: Tracks can be deleted by clicking the delete track menu item in the track options menu on the relevant track’s panel or leader.
- Options Menu: Through the track options menu, you can also access features such as hover auditioning and lock performances.
- Reordering Tracks: Tracks can be reordered by dragging and dropping.